Big Game Hunting – The Football Fourpack for Week 14

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 | 12:24 PM

Four District Seven teams head off into the PIAA tournament carrying the WPIAL banner with them this weekend after a fantastic championship Saturday at Heinz Field. How will they do and who will they face, we will try to take away some of the mystery for local fans as they get set for the state tournament. AAAA and AA teams from the WPIAL hit the road, heading out of district to play while AAA and A get what amounts to a home game playing within the district. Without further ado let’s go Big Game Hunting.

Central Catholic Vikings (13-0) vs Erie McDowell Trojans (7-5) Saturday November 30th at 1:00 PM @ Veterans Stadium in Erie, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Bob Orkwis and Mark Schaas

Mark Soboleski’s Erie McDowell Trojans won’t be terribly unfamiliar to WPIAL football fans. The Trojans played in the WPIAL as recently as 2011 reaching the WPIAL quarterfinals. They also were beaten by North Allegheny in this round of the state tournament last year. The rushing attack will be the focus of the Trojans with four players having rushed for more than 300 yards on the season. The bad news for the Trojans is that Viking defense has been nearly impossible for anyone to run on in this 2013 campaign.

Junior Jake Tarasovitch is the leading rusher for McDowell carrying it 108 times for 538 yards, he has also completed 36 of 91 passes for 530 yards and three touchdowns. Don’t be deceived by the 7-5 record the Trojans have played some serious powerhouses this year and they will be ready for this football game.

Another junior, Tyler Hammond is the second leading rusher for the Trojans with 487 yards and six touchdowns this year. As a team the Trojans have racked up 11 sacks, nine interceptions and recovered ten fumbles.

Central will need to avoid a post-WPIAL championship hangover to move on into the PIAA semi-finals. The Vikings though, appear to be pretty healthy coming off the 27-7 dismantling of Woody High at Heinz Field last Saturday. Luigi Lista-Brinza seemed at full go in that game and that bodes well for a deep state run for the Vikes.

Lista-Brinza has carried it 181 times for 1411 yards and scored 17 touchdowns so far this year. Riley Redman, right behind him is also over a thousand yards for the season.

Quarterback J.J. Cosentino has passed for 655 yards and rushed for 10 touchdowns.

The Vikings defense is fantastic, led by Nikko Thorpe who told the MSA Sports Network after Saturday’s win, there will be no let-down, “We prepare for every game like it is the WPIAL Championship” said Thorpe. If that is true the Vikes will cruise to the semi-finals Saturday afternoon.

West Allegheny Indians (13-0) vs. Erie Cathedral Prep Ramblers (12-0) Friday November 29th at 7:00 PM @ Carl A. Newman Stadium on the campus of North Allegheny high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA-FM 95.3 by Bob Gregg and Mark Uriah

The Ramblers are the defending PIAA champions under head coach Mike Mischler, Prep won their second PIAA championship last year defeating Archbishop Wood 24-14. On their way to that title they knocked off the WPIAL AAA champion from last year in the quarter-final round, 27-13.

This game is a rematch of that game. Damion Terry the all-time district ten passing leader is gone from the Ramblers line-up but Prep has not missed a beat. Prep has not been challenged at all this season outscoring opponents by an average margin of more than forty points per game. The Offense is putting up staggering numbers scoring over 52 points per game on the season.

Senior quarterback Billy Fessler has stepped right into the shoes of Terry and completed 133 of 237 passes for 2601 yards and 35 touchdowns on the season while throwing just five interceptions.

Fessler spreads the ball around with five Prep receivers in double digits in receptions for the season, led by Fessler’s brother junior Charles Fessler and senior Felix Manus-Schell each with 31 catches, they duo has combined for 1082 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns.

Jake Dehart leads the ground attack for Prep with 865 yards on 78 carries and he has scored 15 touchdowns running. He is also a threat catching it out of the backfield with nearly four hundred receiving yards and five touchdowns as well.

Preps defense will hawk the ball, they have 11 sacks, 11 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries on the year.

West Allegheny will have their hands full in this quarter-final no doubt but, it is an experienced West A team and a world class defense for Bob Palko.

Chayse Dillon and Tory Delmonico have now combined to rush for 1969 yards and they have scored 31 touchdowns as a duo. The Indians will need that ground game to roll to try and keep that explosive Prep offense off the field for as long as possible.

Junior quarterback Andrew Koester has completed 89 of 138 passes for 1481 yards on the year following the Indians victory over Central Valley in the WPIAL championship. The WPIAL champs combined in all classifications enter this round in 2013 52-0 for them to remain perfect this is the toughest test they will need to pass in quarter-final weekend.

South Fayette Lions (13-0) vs Karns City Gremlins (12-1) Saturday November 30th at 1:00 PM @ Memorial Stadium on the Campus of Clarion University broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA-AM 1450 by Bob Gregg and Mark Uriah

Karns City comes into this game as the champions of district 9 and with a powerful rushing attack. Te Gremlins suffered their only setback in a week two lass to Clarion 42-7. As a team they complete less than eight passes per game here in the 2013 campaign. Safe to say, that makes this game a contrast of styles against the South Fayette Lions.

The Gremlins are rushing for an average of over 284 yards per game on the season. As a team they have totaled 3413 rushing yards, seven Gremlins have rushed for more than 200 yards and none has rushed for 600. That is diversity in a rushing attack.

Senior quarterback Tyler Kepple has completed 97 of 155 passes for 1601 yards and 30 touchdowns, just enough to keep the defense honest.

Zach Moore is the leading rusher for Karns City with 569 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.

Brett Brumbaugh, and the Lions approach to football has been significantly different. Brumbaugh has completed 188 of 302 passes for 3096 yards and 33 touchdowns on the season.

Conner Beck and Justin Watson have been the go-to receivers for Brumbaugh but, Hayden Orler and Ryan Smider have stepped up their catches here in the post season as teams have made attepts to slow Beck and Watson. Grant Fetchet and J.J. Walker have been solid on the ground for Joe Rossi’s powerful offense that is averaging exactly 46 points per game for the season.

Defensively the Lions were tagged by the Aliquippa Quips running game for some big plays in the WPIAL championship game, but not many teams will be able to come at the Lions with guys like Terry Swanson and Dravon Henry.


Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Trojans (13-0) vs Tussey Mountain Titans (11-2) Friday November 29th at 7:00 PM @ Fridley Field on the campus of Hampton high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sam Hall and Sean Meyers

The Titans are the champions of district 5 and, when you hear their story it actually sounds a lot like the story of their opponent in this state quarter-final game the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Trojans. Tussey Mountain wins their first district championship in 25 years, largely because according to head coach Josh Smith of the work done up front by a fantastic offensive and defensive line that has been working together for many years to achieve their team goals.

That is a pretty good paraphrase of the song Bob Ravenstahl has been singing about his North Catholic Trojans who won their first ever WPIAL championship last week with a 14-0 blanking of the Sto-Rox Vikings.

The Titans have a pair of fantastic running backs in junior Dan Taylor and senior Darrin Sipes. Taylor has rushed for 1335 yards and 20 touchdowns while Sipes has 1606 yards and 20 touchdowns as well.

Junior quarterback Quinn Barnett has completed 67 of 132 passes for Tussey Mountain for 1412 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has thrown nine interceptions on the year and the North Catholic defensive backs have a way of finding balls in the air.

The Titan defense has 15 interceptions and they get into opponents backfields at an alarming rate with 37 tackles for loss on the year including 30 sacks. Bringing P.J. Fulmore down though does involve more than getting there usually.

Despite missing almost half the season with an injury Fulmore is fast approaching the 1000 yard plateau, he has 928 yards and 10 touchdowns on 184 carries.

Ronnie Meder, Mike Blackwell, Josh Churchin, and Ryan Long anchor a defense that it is very unlikely the Titans have seen anything like during their run to the district 5 championship.

Jared Fragapane and Jerome Turner are also difference makers for the Trojans on both sides of the football.

It says here the Trojans roll in this game and in fact have a pretty good look at getting to Hershey to try and tack a first ever PIAA football championship banner right beside the shiny new first ever WPIAL football championship banner in their brand new gymnasium.

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